The Road To Recovery

* With every potential sponsee, I give them a template for our work. It lists two books that I require sponsees to have available every time we meet so they should get them as e-books available on their phone. And yet 95% of potential sponsees don’t have these books when we start working together. Please pay attention. If you don’t, I’ll have to drop you. I hate to repeat myself. 

* I realize there is nothing I say or do that can’t be misinterpreted and misused.  I could recommend to someone that they go for a walk, and they might go for a walk and get mugged or break a leg. I might say you should drink a glass of water and you might drink 20 glasses of water and hurt yourself. I take no responsibility for that. I could recommend to someone that they read a book and it might trigger them into creating a disaster online. I might suggest an assignment and it might lead them to a nervous breakdown. I might say that they should become more visible and they might go out and become more visible in a disastrous way. I take no responsibility for the lives of others because I have no control over them. I do the best I can and then I turn over the results to God. Please use whatever I say in ways that benefit you and others. I take no responsibility for your life, but I am always eager for constructive feedback.

* “If you love and serve men, you cannot by any hiding or stratagem escape the remuneration.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

If you are poor, it’s because you are not sufficiently loving and serving others (a useful perspective, I won’t argue for its truth, I won’t argue any of the concepts I’ve learned in program, I just try them out to see if they work for me, and if they do, I share them with others).

* Pain is the price of admission to recovery.

* “If you’ve been watching Netflix, chilling, and taking it easy during the pandemic… Don’t expect to develop magical discipline after it’s over, because you won’t. You missed the perfect opportunity to change.” (Jose Rosado)

* “The action is the success; the results are out of our hands”–Jerrold Mundis.

* “If you only do the work when it’s convenient or exciting, then you’ll never be consistent enough to achieve remarkable results…Professionals take action even when the mood isn’t right. They might not enjoy it, but they find a way to put the reps in.” (Atomic Habits)

* “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.” (Steven Pressfield, The War of Art)

I spoke to a guy who’s voice is always flat…he says he has no friends, no passion. He’s no longer acting out in his various addictions but he has no joy.

So instead of going over his homework, instead of going over symptoms and tools of the program, instead of working the steps and reading and discussing program literature, I asked him what would he like to be doing. And he said he’d like to be a leader in his field.

And suddenly, for just a few seconds, his voice came alive in a way I had never heard before. Within ten seconds, it had turned flat again but I had a sense of who he wanted to be.

So I asked him, what would happen if he went after that life he dreamed of?

He listed various excuses and I stopped him and said: “Write about how these fears of living the life you want have served you, kept you safe, kept you secure, kept you in your comfort zone. Then write about how these fears have hurt you. Get a sense of
the gigantic loss you’ve experienced because you’ve been hostage to these fears and not living the life of your dreams. Then write about all the ways you would benefit from being in the opposite of these fears — instead approaching life with love, generosity, God-seeking…and see that beautiful neighborhood. Now think about what books you need to read, podcasts you need to listen to, what you need to do to live the life of your dreams…and every morning, pray the seventh step prayer, “My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. Please remove from me every defect of character including my fear of living life to the full (put your fears in your own words)…Grant me strength as I go out from here to do your will.”

And when you hit the blahs during the day, say the prayer again, and report back to me what you find out from doing this work.

So I never listened to his homework that day, I never went over the formal recovery program with him (he has been through the steps several times before), I just cut to the chase of what is blocking him from living large.

If there’s anything here that speaks to you, lets talk about it.

* My seventh grade teacher wanted to unleash my abilities so she cast me in the lead role in the school play. I’m a natural performer but back then I wasn’t willing to be positively visible, so I didn’t put any energy into my performance and instead settled for a non-speaking part.  Anything great takes energy, and that comes from passion and connection to a power greater than yourself.

* I don’t know what podcasts/speakers/courses/books/music/groups you need to make your life come alive, but find them. I’ve been listening lately to Radio Gamechangers, a podcast about Australian radio, because I have a background in radio and I am from Australia. Listening to this makes me come alive. And I heard on the show that you can always tell by listening to a radio station if the people there are happy. It’s true. You can tell a great deal about a person by hearing their voice. Many people enter program with a soft tentative quiet flat voice and then when they come alive, their voice transmits that quality. We need to tune in to radio station KGOD and then transmit that power through our lives. We are all radio stations transmitting 24/7. People who transmit at a high level will not associate with people who transmit at a low level. To climb into the winners circle, we need to transform and this will then come through our voice. All our communication problems get solved when we become passionate about what we say and do.

* This program is about transformation more than information. If you shared the info of 12-step programs with most normies, they would not find it impressive. If you just read the Big Book, you won’t be changed. After a few years of therapy, I had lots of therapy speak but little transformation. Transformation happens when we realize the inadequacy of our own way of doing things and yearn for a power greater than ourselves… Jot down some thoughts on information vs transformation. I read hundreds of self help books prior to entering 12 step work. I had a decade of therapy. I made a dramatic conversion to a new religion. None of these things transformed me. I’ve always had a fear of women that I surmounted by taking certain steps in my teens and twenties and then I went over the top to catch up on what I had missed, but that underlying fear remained and hobbled me prior to 12 steps (beginning in 2011). If you have fear, panic, anger and resentment with technology, you can take a class and learn information that might address your immediate problems, but the underlying anxiety remains. Transformation begins when we decide that continuing on as we are is intolerable. The pain of not changing outweighs the pain of changing.

* Write a few pages about your best qualities.

* “To tackle [overeating], we must understand why, then take steps to break the cycle of anxiety, shame and sadness that characterizes the disorder. One way to do that [is] self-compassion.”

* Recovery from under-earning or porning or debting or drinking takes time, just like recovery from a physical wound.

* Anxiety thrives in future thinking. The place we can make a difference is now.

* When you feel positively energized, write down what positive thing you are thinking about. Compile a list of positive things you think about that fill you with positive energy. That’s your power source for transformation.

* Most people get fired for personality conflicts, aka they are not likable. Google “likability” and practice what you learn. People who take themselves too seriously are not likable. Funny people are likable, ill-tempered people are not. Display empathy to those around you by noticing their state: You look like are having a hard day, you look like you are killing it today, you look like you would prefer to be anywhere but here, you look relieved, you look excited, you look bored, you look scared….

* The only thing I feel qualified to give you is my experience with this work. I am not the most compassionate loving supportive sponsor. If you call me looking for support, you’re calling the wrong dude. I won’t spent time with you commiserating about how your car died, your computer won’t work and your hamster passed on. I’ve been called brusque. Following the cue of HerbK, I do not get invested in my sponsees. This work is confrontational, but I am not directive (I won’t be telling you what to do, I don’t give orders and I don’t have requirements except that you do the work).

We do our addictions because we like the effect of them, just as the alcoholic drinks because he likes the effect of alcohol. (Big Book, page XVIII)

* Addicts often have trouble making decisions. Here are some tips that have helped me:

* Act as if everyone knows everything. Stop trying to hide stuff. Stop trying to get away with stuff. Act as if, speak as if, your actions and words were going to be accurately reported on the front page of the newspaper. Conduct your life as if it were being recorded and highlights would be shown on the evening news. Conduct your schedule as if it were going to be published on the front page of the newspaper. Make decisions that will make your life more integrated (whole) as opposed to fragmented. Make decisions that will work across your life. Make decisions that you can talk about with people rather than hiding from people. Make decisions that develop your relationship with God, with others and with your best self. Make decisions out of your character assets of generosity, faith-seeking, selfless, honesty and consideration rather than out of your character defects of selfishness, self-seeking, dishonesty, inconsideration and fear. Your intuition is a text message from God. If you are not sure about something, ask God to increase or decrease your desire to do something and then listen. If you think about doing something and it makes your muscles tight, your back hurt, your stomach contract, it might not be a good idea. Warren Buffet says that when thinking about a stock makes his back hurt, he sells it.

* Become an inspiration junkie. Develop a playlist of music that inspires you. Have a playlist of talks that inspire you. You’ll need inspiration to transform your life.

* Don’t make it hard for people to give you money or to be nice to you. I emailed a book to an acquaintance the other day and he came back with emails asking for it to be in a different format, and when I told him to Google the free app that would open the book, he responded by telling me how much of a bother it was. Don’t ask people to do things for you that you can do for yourself, such as finding the free app that opens an attachment (from someone you trust). Nobody healthy likes to have needy people in his life. I had one friend who only wanted to earn money through Bible-based counseling. Don’t get such ridiculous tunnel-vision. If people give you something nice, don’t respond by demeaning them, harassing them, mocking them, complaining to them, bothering them. Be gracious and say thank you. “Rarely, if ever, does an empathic statement start with ‘At least.’ . . . What makes something better is connection.”

* As you recover and build good habits, particularly early in the day, you will have fewer decisions to make. Good choices often preclude bad choices and even thinking about making bad choices. Also, as one recovers, one gets more clarity on oneself, on one’s relative importance in various interactions through the day (for example, as an employee, you take direction from those above you, in other interactions you will make peace with taking direction and giving direction), and on the nature of one’s addictions, one’s level of powerlessness, the nature of one’s wrongs, and with this clarity will come strength and power and passion and direction, which will make decision-making easier.

* Write about areas of your life where you make fast effective decisions and areas of your life where you have not consistently made good decisions.

* Reduce your time, propinquity, frequency and intensity of your interactions with people who are perpetually aggrieved.

Ways for measuring your level of recovery:

* Do you bring people up or down? If you choose to stay in your job, it is your responsibility to lift people up by being positive, punctual, and professional as well as friendly, and enthusiastic.

* How do you feel about your imperfections and your bad choices? If you are not at ease with yourself, other people won’t be at ease with you either. If you don’t like you, others won’t like you either. If you don’t comfortable with you, others won’t feel comfortable with you. With recovery, comes acceptance of self and of others. Without acceptance of one’s fallibility and the fallibility of others, there’s no recovery. When you can share calmly with safe people about the worst choices you have made without needing to beat yourself down for them, and without your voice wavering or thinning or cracking, and without your face and body twitching, you have achieved a high level of recovery. Any time your voice cracks or you panic when talking about something, that means you haven’t processed it yet. If you wonder if you have gotten over something in your past, talk about it, and your voice quality will indicate where you are at. I think I can usually tell someone’s level of recovery by their voice. People with recovery have self-acceptance, they’re at peace with their fallibility and their inability to control others, and so they sound clear and calm. Their voice also indicates that they have an over-arching purpose to their lives, that they live for things higher than the satisfaction of their instincts.

* How much do you obsess over how other people view you, particularly after you say or do something benign but then you involuntarily worry about how others think of you (used to happen to me all the time)? If you are aligned with God and your purpose in life, this drops away. I’m amazed how little I worry anymore about how others think of me. My mind is much less filled with useless chatter these days, instead I’m thinking about moving ahead with my goals. When you live your life with positive over-arching purpose, people will respond to you (charisma) positively. Underearners are often stuck in reacting to people and circumstance.

* How do you speak to yourself? For years, the most common thing I said to myself was “You stupid f*****!” In recovery, as we practice self-acceptance, we begin to speak to ourselves more calmly and kindly (and as a result, we speak to others with more acceptance and kindness). I begin my day by asking God to help me treat myself with love acceptance and then I ask God to help me treat others with love and acceptance.

* How much turbulence you can handle without lashing at yourself or others?

* There should be over-arching purpose to your life and to your choices during the day. In 12-step, we have the mentality that we are here to help other people and to connect to God and to our best selves (because this approach removes us from our previous self-destructive habits). That’s our purpose. You might do things to take care of yourself such as eating, sleeping, working out, you might do things to improve yourself such as prayer, meditation, 12 step work and meetings, reading, listening to lectures, you do other things to earn money, you do other things for fun, and you do other things to explore your vision. So when you time track, you can also add the purpose of the activity such as self-care, earning, fun, service, etc. Don’t call someone just because you’re mad, have a purpose before you launch into a conversation or an action choice. You are the message. All of you combines to say something to those who meet you. As you recover, your life will cohere and its different parts will propel you towards your vision of blessing others.

* Write a page about the effects of your addiction that you like — perhaps staying small, staying childish, reliant on others, living in a fantasy because it is more fun than a reality, a virtuous feeling that you above the carnal concerns of most people, allows you to feel super spiritual, its a great big exciting adventure to live on the edge, because you’ll get a novel out of it, fearful that if you get bigger you’ll get hurt, if you get bigger, someone will just take it away and you won’t be able to handle the pain, its easier than growing and challenging yourself, it is familiar, it is normal, it is true, life is hard and under-earning is the nature of the universe, to fight global warming, to hurt people who care about you, poverty is all you deserve, it is easier to reduce your wants than to increase your income, it is too painfully humbling to seek out a psychic change.

* Write about ten things that are true about you that most people in your life do not know. Write about 10 things you know that most people don’t.

* What does winning at life look like? What are some benchmarks you can use to mark your progress?

* If it is hard for you to be kind to yourself, to be gentle with yourself, to be a good friend to yourself, if you consistently speak to yourself in a demeaning manner you would never employ with a friend, write  a description. Why is it hard for you to be kind to yourself? Why do you need to be hard on yourself? How’s that working out?

* Write about what you are good at, what you are not good at, and what you are doing now that you wished you did not do.

* Make three phone calls a day to people to inquire about how they got into the program, which of the 12 symptoms speak to them, how is their recovery coming along, and possibly share about your own journey to and through addiction. Make friends in the program. Stay in the middle of the herd. Go to fellowship with people after meetings.

Freedom from addiction requires a psychic change, a complete re-ordering of our mental, physical and emotional landscape. This is hard work. If you like me are an under-earner, then your life is at risk, so don’t dawdle, dive into this work like a starving rotweiler jumps for food. I don’t want sponsees who aren’t willing to do at least five hours of work a week. I was so grateful when I was given the assignments below by my sponsors that I dove into them and got them done quickly because I wanted recovery. There’s no recovery, in my view, without a lot of writing. I don’t want anything from my sponsees other than that they do the work I assign. If you do the work, if you don’t lie to me, I’ll keep dishing it out. If I tell you to write on something and you tell me you did it and then over the phone I can hear that you did not do it, that you are only ad-libbing, then we are done. If you tell me you’ve completed the step one work sheet and it turns out you only did the first page, we’re done. OTOH, if you exaggerate or even lie about other things such as how much you have worked the tools, I don’t care. That’s between you and God. For addicts like me, however, to lie is to die.

My goal is to help people connect with a power greater than themselves, which some of us call God. I would like you to become a vessel for God and to bring God into all you do (prior to surrendering to 12 Step beginning in 2011, I would have found this thinking stupid). As a by product of this journey, you develop a clearer understanding of yourself and your relative importance in your various interactions. If you are a painter, you will set aside time to pain. If you are a writer, you will write. If you are a leader, you will lead. If your volunteer job calls for you to wear a white shirt, you will wear a white shirt even if you think the rule is stupid and you know better than everyone else. Humiliation comes from ignoring reality, from not being right sized. Humility means living in reality and having an accurate sense of one’s own importance. If you are going through life without much humiliation, you probably have an accurate understanding of reality. If your life has constant humiliation, you likely have a distorted sense of reality. From a 12 Step perspective, we are neither better than or less than anyone else in our ultimate value (though we may be faster, funnier, more erudite, more skilled in auto mechanics or raising children or using Excel than the norm), so we can let go of the compare and despair dynamic.

Some say you have the life you have created. That perspective is useful. When absorbed and processed inside, that insight often leads to transformation. It doesn’t matter if it is true. You can go far in your recovery without believing anything. I urge you however to try on a new pair of glasses. You benefit by looking at your life today as 100% the product of your choices so far (not necessary to believe it, just try out the perspective to see if you gain anything by it). It’s useful to inquire if your troubles are of your own making, if your resentments, fears, secrets, guilt and shame come from your own distorted thinking. You don’t have to beat yourself down for things you’ve done in the past. You didn’t choose to be an under-earner. You did the best you could every time given the tools that you had at the time. You were trying to meet your needs the best way you knew how. You can stop thinking of yourself as a horrible person who does not deserve prosperity. Through working the steps, you will get a clear understanding of the harms you’ve done others and how you make amends so that you will feel clean.

There are many other perspectives in recovery that I won’t urge you to believe, but I will encourage you to try them on to see if they work for you. The stuff I heard in my yoga classes frequently made no sense to me but I got benefit from being there (along with some permanent injuries and expensive physical therapy bills). So take what benefits you in the program and discard the rest. I injured myself permanently (stretched tendons that won’t return to normal) in yoga by trying to keep up with everyone else in the class. Don’t injure yourself in recovery by using the program to beat yourself (or anyone else) down. Every group has psychopaths, keep your distance from those who will use you. Everybody has flaws, don’t ask more from people then they are able to give you. Good people make you feel good, bad people make you feel bad. Choose good people.

* You can tell if you have processed something if you can talk about it without physiological reactions such as stuttering, voice cracking, flushing, etc. If you can’t talk about something without getting triggered, you haven’t processed it. If you can’t talk about your urges without getting triggered, you haven’t fully recovered. If you still have “triggers”, you haven’t processed and come to terms with you. The intensity of your triggers is inverse to your level of recovery. Triggers are signs you need to work your program. In blunter terms, triggers are bullshit. Step work reduces our unnecessary sensitivities. It make us more resilient.

* Be of service in the program and don’t stand off to the side thinking you are terminally unique. People like me get crazy ideas in their head that they only see are crazy when they talk about them with others. My mind is a dangerous neighborhood I don’t like to enter alone.

* Become attuned to the choices you make that create sustained healthy good feelings and choices you make that create sustained sick bad feelings. Layer good )choice on top of good choice, particularly at the beginning of the day…and allow the momentum to rock you towards the life you want, and then chill out at the end of the day feeling good. You deserve it.

* If someone gives you accurate criticism and that feels bad, you should have enough maturity to quickly see that feedback as a gift and then you’ll feel good. If you are beating yourself up over things you’ve done in the past, remember you did the best you could at the time with what you had to meet your needs and you can let go of self-abuse. There’s no longer a need to regret the past. Given who you were at the time, you could not have acted differently (that’s my attitude, and with it I have dropped regret, I am not arguing that this attitude is true, just that it is useful).

* What percentage of the time over the past year has it served you to get angry? For me, less than 10% of the time.

* Our addiction is not our problem. Our behavior is not our problem. Our problems are not our problem. Our problem is a lack of power. Where do we get power? From God. When we connect to the power of God, our lives transform.

I try to help people connect to God…and then their problems largely disappear. Without recovery, self-will and selfishness run riot and we try to do things on our own power and that doesn’t work. When I only do the sponsor assignments that make sense to me, I only get limited recovery. Deep recovery comes from doing the assignments I don’t want to do and that don’t make sense to me. If the assignment made sense, we would not need to do it.

The building manager came over one day. He was irate with the way one guy in the complex kept his bathroom and he wanted to text me pictures of it, he wanted me to look at it, and I kept saying I don’t want to get involved. It’s also possible that not everything I was doing was ideal. So I kept telling him I’m not a practical person but if you give me instructions, I’ll carry them out. and I thought, what if I texted my sponsees pictures of the grubbiest parts of my life. Are you willing to share the grubbiest parts of your life with someone you respect? And then do the work to get clean?

I have some cleaning and organizing to do. I need to shine a light on some dirty parts of my apartment…and that’s a metaphor for recovery that works for me… If you do the work, in my experience, your problems largely go away on their own. I don’t find that we figure things out… or solve our problems by working on them directly. Our problems are stimuli to work the program. When we say, my problem is X, we’re usually missing the mark. Think about all the people who tell you, “My problem is X” and you think, you are missing the mark.

* Addicts tend to be low in conscientiousness (low impulse control, weak commitment, low diligence) and agreeableness (empathy) and high in neuroticism (love to dwell on negative feelings, anti-social, withdrawn). These personality traits can be shifted over time. The more socially effective personality will have openness, some extraversion, a lot of conscientiousness and agreeableness and little neuroticism (The General Factor of Personality (GFP) as social effectiveness: Review of the literature).

* Do you have any limiting beliefs? Write them out. Describe how they serve you, how they hurt you, and how your life would be improved by adopting more prosperous God-centered beliefs.

* To overcome idea deflection, try out some of the best ideas you receive.

If you do the assignments here, you will have a spiritual experience that helps you to connect to God and to prosperity.

You may feel pulled in a million directions. My dad taught me to seize the moment of excited interest to investigate something…so if you feel driven to understand something or learn about something, if you can, put aside everything else, and choose that moment to do it until you are slaked… Eg, you decide you want to write a book about yoga and 12 step work, so then when that feeling is strong, you go research on what has previously been published on that… You decide you want to start a yoga with goats studio, you google if that is available in your area. You decide you want to devote your life to fighting for justice, so then you google what kind of education you need for that, or what kinds of jobs are available, or what does it take to start your own non-profit and operate it successfully.

I will often get an urge to learn about something, and then I immediately Google topic, read, watch youtube videos on topic, download books on topic and dive in when I am excited… I get more done when I am passionate. Our problem is lack of power. Passion is power.

* The word “sponsor” does not occur in the Big Book. The word first became used in AA life for those who’d bring drunks to a sanitarium and assumed responsibility for their bill and then for their life. That’s not my understanding for us. I see a sponsor as a step guide so I take no responsibility for your life and your bills and your relationships and I don’t give advice. My opinion can kill you, but the Big Book can save you. We won’t be talking much about your problems.

I’ve had many sponsors and they sometimes gave me idiotic assignments but I found I got great spiritual benefit from learning to follow directions that I hated, and I learned to apply that willingness to take direction to my paid work and to my volunteer work and I was blessed with peace of mind and flexibility as a result and a more accurate understanding of myself. I also learned to not get involved with people who wouldn’t take my direction when I was a leader.

I sometimes hated my sponsors but I never lacked respect for them. If you don’t respect your sponsor, you should get another sponsor. On the other hand, if they anger you at times, that’s ok. You don’t need to like your sponsor. You don’t need to be friends with your sponsor and you don’t need to look forward to your calls with him.

Don’t steal from your employer, not even pens or clips. When I started a job, I gave my employer $20 so if I ever needed an envelope or a pen etc, I was still in the black with him. I’ve periodically topped that up so I feel free to use his printer, postage etc so long as I stay in the black (with his blessing).

I find that my need for excitement and distraction is in inverse proportion to my happiness (which correlates with my competence at meeting the challenges life gives me) and nothing has helped my competence at meeting the challenges life gives me like working the program.

The Big Book says: “Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.” Unnecessary fear leads to poverty.

AA talks about a physical allergy and an obsession of the mind. Perhaps the physical allergy in process addictions is the biochemical rush we get from participating in our own destruction.

* Write me an essay on why you want to work the 12 steps in the program (more than a page) and why now. Journal about the areas in your life where you are not being honest with yourself and others.

As you do this work, write honestly. You don’t need to reveal it all to me, if there are things you’d rather discuss with someone else, do that. Your sponsor does not get an all access pass to your life. Also, you can feel free to tell me, after you have done an assignment, that you got no benefit from it. That may help me become a better sponsor.

* Tell people if you have no experience with something and that they should ask others for help. Part of recovery is admitting you don’t know something.

* Write about examples of this addiction you see around you. Perhaps,

* I see people who only want to make money one particular way…
* They have to follow their passion and don’t want a day job.
* They’re not good at working for other people, or an office job, or a corporate job…

* Write a history of your addiction using the 12 symptoms as a prism (minimum 5 pages). I shared my essay on this with about a dozen friends and I encourage you to share your writings and insights and revelations from doing this work with people who are safe. Our shared vulnerability is key to our recovery.

* Write about the opposite of the symptoms so you can see some benchmarks as you progress in the program.

* Write about people, places, things, entertainments that take you away from the presence of God and write about people, places, things and entertainments that bring you closer to God.

* Write about how this applies to you.

* Time record in a gentle curious way. Most of my sponsees find it useful to record the first 12 hours of their weekdays and then take the weekends off. Gently implement all 12 tools… Don’t force yourself to work the tools, force yourself to work the steps and learn the traditions and then your willingness to use the tools will emerge out of that recovery.

* If you are up for it, track every dollar you earn and every dollar you earn. This is a Debtors Anonymous tool. I regard DA and UA as different sides of the same coin. If you have a problem with debting and spending, enter Debtors Anonymous and get the Jerrold Mundis book on debting. If you have problems with people, get into Al Anon. Put first in your life the 12 Step program that primarily addresses whichever addiction will kill you first.

* I look for ways to understand and approach life that make me happy and prosperous, that enable me to get along with other people, and to have a sense of ease with myself, with others, with the universe and with God.

* I like the idea that everybody and every thing should be appreciated in its own genre, in its own context (historicism). I don’t despise a baseball player for not being as smart as a physicist and I do not deride a painter for not being able to throw a football 70 yards. I believe that people do the best they can with what they have and that everybody does what he thinks is right.

* I try to stay aware that I usually do not see the world as it is, but as I am.

* I try not to give my opinions undue weight, because every time I share a heavy one, I then feel compelled to defend it, and then I often dig myself into a hole.

* I don’t know of any moral teaching more valuable than that one should act as if what you are doing and saying will be reported accurately on the front page of the New York Times tomorrow. I guess that’s my principle moral code.

* I think the more integrated your life, the better. The fewer secrets the better. The more honesty the better. I like to ask myself regularly — what am I hiding that should be shared with others? What am I ashamed about? Who do I resent? What am I lying about? What relationships and situations am I in that weigh me down? Do I have unnecessary possessions and tensions? And then I clean house and help others.

* I’ve been on a phone meeting a day since June of 2015. That works for me, particularly first thing in the morning.

* Keep a journal and give each day a score on a 1-10 (10 is best) and list reasons why you gave that day that score. After a week, you may notice any patterns. Perhaps 30 more minutes of sleep significantly helps your score, or an hour more of socializing or an hour more to yourself…

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Read it (particularly the first five chapters) and see where its description of the problem of alcoholism applies to your addiction and then write about that, look at the Big Book’s description of the solution and write about how that might apply to you. Look for where the Big Book speaks to you and write about that. Why does it speak to you? Feel free to apply this same method to the 12 and 12.

One way to measure your recovery is your ability to feel serene over things you cannot control (such as traffic, weather, other people, politics, banks, etc) and the amount of courage you have to do the things you need to do.

* Write at least a page about your experience with prosperity aka good things coming easily.

* Write at least a page about your experience with disappointment. When people and things disappointed me, I got into victimhood mentality. I would think, Why do people always let me down? That created a sick bio-chemical high. People won’t always put you as high in their priorities as you expect. You’ll likely call this betrayal.

* Step two assignment. Write about your concept of God and what He wants for your life and prosperity and then write about your behavior in light of that. Does it match up?

When you do your 4th step, take your top 10 resentments against people and write about those interactions from the other party’s point of view (and assume that everyone acts in a way they understand as right and good).

* Call at least five people you respect and ask them their experience, strength and hope with regard to step one, step two, step three, etc, as we go through the steps.

* I asked a mentor about resentments against ideas and institutions and he said: If someone resents a person, it is keeping them from getting something they feel they need. If you keep going back to someone who hurts you, that is on you… Maybe you are afraid of responsibility. If you think the Man, the system, is doing something to you, you are not going to get out of your situation because you are not seeing your part, your responsibility…

My mentor had a resent against Group X because a member of that group failed to repay a big loan and he had to see his responsibility in making an ill advised loan to a criminal to try to buy something from this person…

Once you recognize that ways of thinking are not healthy, you ask God to release you…

Addiction is cunning baffling and powerful… We want to become vessels for God and when we do that, we get out of our own way…

* Regarding resentments against ideas/institutions, we can’t take responsibility for things that are not our responsibility. An addict fails to accept life on life’s terms. If you became an activist and slowly work at it, you’d only be able to move the needle a little bit at best. It’s not accepting how things are. What’s underlying that is in my experience is something about themselves that they are not willing to face, something that happened to them that they are replaying in their minds that triggered them, some CEO who screwed them or those they love over… Explore things in this realm. It’s a mine field. Find out when that resentment started, that might reveal something. There are always people involved in resentment against ideas/institutions. It is coming back to those people and accepting reality. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Resentment is based on recreating history and resenting that we can’t accept things the way
they are. Accepting reality is hard. It is not your fault, but you have to accept what happened, accept reality, accept your ability to influence the world is small, you can’t make reality different and make it go away, but you can recognize the people to avoid, and you can choose to forgive people for being sick…

Here are questions to ask yourself each day:

1. Was I resentful?
2. Was I dishonest?
3. Did I promptly admit when I was wrong today?
4. Do I owe an apology?
5. Did I do or say something today out of fear?
6. Have I kept something to myself which should be discussed with
another person at once?
7. Did I think today of what I could do for others?
8. Was I kind and loving towards all?
9. Did I reach out to someone in recovery today to see how they were doing?
10. Did I take the time to connect with my higher power through prayer
or meditation today?

* When did I feel that I was a conduit for spirit?
* When did I hear God’s voice the most clearly today?
* When did I feel that I was a conduit for God?
* When was I of service?
* Did I spend time in nature and what came to me during that time?
* When did I hold still and clear my mind to receive?
* When I was responsive instead of reactive and how can I build on that?
* When was I humble and how can I build on that?
* What was I grateful for today?
* How was I proud of myself?
* When was I most at peace with myself and others?
* When did I feel most spiritually connected?
* What spiritual practices nurtured me the most?
* What goals would I like to implement to be more spiritually healthy?
* What steps do I need to take to make my goals a reality?
* Did my beliefs change today and how?

Debting is F*** you. Underearning is F*** me.

I love cold showers because you never take out of a cold shower the same thinking you had upon entering the shower. So too with program. It is a sobering cold shower of reality and it will change the way you think and act.

Neil: “We think we want more followers, wealth, fame, social acceptance, sex, or luxuries when what we actually just need is more self-esteem. Ironically, doing this inside work will help the outside abundance come. And ironically, you won’t even need it when it does.”

When I’m driving, I usually listen to 12 step talks or live phone meetings or recorded books.

Principles for each step:

1 = surrender (admittance)
2 = belief
3 = commitment
4 = honesty
5 = truth
6 = willingness
7 = humility & change
8 = Reflection
9 = amendment
10 = vigilance over your own conduct, unclogging the pipe to God
throughout the day
11 = attunement to God
12 = service to others

Look for ways to live these principles in all aspects of your life in a way that serves you and those around you. For example, what are some things you could admit that would serve you. Where would you benefit from surrendering? Where would belief serve you? What commitments would benefit you? Where do you need more honesty and truth? Where do you need willingness? How about humility & change? Could you benefit from reflection and a desire to make amends?

Try incorporating and living the principles that accompany the 12 Steps.

There are many different approaches to the 12 principles that accompany the 12 steps, but living by these principles is a source of dignity and power:

HONESTY – Fairness and straight forwardness of conduct: adherence to the facts.
HOPE – To expect with desire; something on which hopes are centered.
FAITH – Complete confidence; belief and trust.
COURAGE – Firmness  of  mind  and  will  in  the  face  of  extreme
difficulty;  mental  or  moral  strength  to withstand fear.
INTEGRITY – The quality or state of being complete or undivided; soundness.
WILLINGNESS – Prompt to act or respond; accepted and done of choice or
without reluctance.
HUMILITY – Not proud or haughty; not arrogant or assertive; a clear
and concise understanding of what we are, followed by a sincere desire
to become what we can be.
LOVE – Unselfish concern that freely accepts another in loyalty and
seeks his good to hold dear.
DISCIPLINE – Training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental
faculties or moral character; to bring under control; to train or
develop by instruction.
PATIENCE/PERSEVERANCE – Steadfast despite opposition or adversity;
able or willing to bear; to persist in an understanding in spite of
counter influences.
AWARENESS – Alive and alert; vigilance in observing.
SERVICE – A  helpful  act;  contribution  to  the  welfare  of
others;  useful  labor  that  does  not  produce  a tangible

A good list here of 12 step prayers.

This is what I use every morning: “God, please help me to treat myself with love and compassion. Please help me to treat others with love and compassion. I can’t, you can, I’ll let you (first 3 steps). My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good & bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character, including X,Which stands in the way of my usefulness to you & my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here to do your bidding.”

When I run into turbulence during the day, I repeat: I can’t, you can, I’ll let you (first 3 steps).

When you work the 12 steps, you will get clear and then you can work on your goals and the actions required to achieve them.

Underearning equals hiding. The opposite is positive visibility, aka souls coming out of hiding. I had a sponsor who would keep urging me to get bigger.

Take all your expenses per month and figure out what you need to earn per hour (assuming 40 hours a week) to pay them. Then double that number and don’t take any new work less than that number… Once you commit to that, that’s your prosperity sobriety date. So lets say your expenses are $50k a year, that means you would not take new work that paid you less than $50 an hour.

Your annual expenses will roughly equate to the minimum amount per hour you can accept prosperously. $60k annual expenses means no new work earning less than $60 an hour (unless the work is super fun and you are doing it as a hobby, as a B job).

It’s a delusion to pursue an A job or career that is not prosperous according to that calculation. Instead, if you want, you can do that dream/goal/fun thing on the side…as your B job…or as a hobby but you are not looking to it to pay your bills.

Be of service at meetings, such as reading or keeping time… Pick up a couple of pieces of trash every day so you have more reasons to feel good about yourself.

Prosperity comes from our relationships with others. Al Anon is the best program for learning to get along with others. If getting along with others becomes the number one problem in your life, I recommended making Al Anon your number one program until it is no longer your number one problem. There are lots of recovery resources on youtube and elsewhere online.

Get clarity about who drains you and who energizes you and try to minimize interactions with those who drain you. When certain people share on meetings, I stop listening because I don’t want to be infected by their craziness… Don’t let people infect you with their craziness. If you take an outreach call, don’t let strangers talk about their problems for more than 2 minutes, switch the focus to the solution or get off the call (obviously does not  apply to friends). I had a friend who frequently wanted to talk to me about his dark thoughts and after many times I had to stop it and say I only want to hear positive news, the solution… Be ruthless in protecting yourself. About 4% of the population are psychopaths, when you encounter them, flee.

If people make you feel unsafe physically or emotionally, flee from them… If your job makes you feel unsafe, look for another job.

* Some people set aside time to have a weekly date with God. For some, it means a walk in nature. For others, it means yoga
class or a visit to a house or worship. For others, going to a store and just having a sensory experience, trying out perfumes, noting different aromas… For others, it means setting aside time to listen to sacred music or even watching certain movies/tv shows that are uplifting…

* Would it serve you to set aside days/times to do what you want and not allow obligations to others to weigh you down?

* Are there ways you can be nice to yourself that are healthy? Are there ways you can pamper yourself without harming yourself and others? For example, I only work a job 30 hours a week so I have another 30 hours a week to do vision…and have healthy fun such as reading, conversations, writing, and I see all the movies I want… Would it help you to make a list of ways you can be really nice and good and nurturing to yourself? Perhaps make that a title in your gmail draft folder and just add to it as the days go by… For example, I use a Gmail draft to list movies or tv shows or books i want…or another draft folder to list things I want to explore.

* As you work steps four and five, take the ten interactions in your past over which you have the most intense resentment, and write about those incidents from the perspective of those who you feel harmed you. Write purely from their point of view. Do not write, “I think Joe was probably thinking…” Do not write, “My sister was probably feeling…” No, write solely from the first person and write about specific incidents. And use the perspective that people do and say what they think is right and good at the time. So describe how their behavior and words flowed out of a perspective that what they were doing seemed right at the time. At the end of all your 4th and 5th step work, you should have virtually no resentment. If you still have ongoing resentment over the past operating in your life, then Google for fourth step worksheets from any 12-step program and work every one until your resentment over the past has disappeared. I don’t care about resentments you have towards public figures you’ve never met and ideas, if you need help with this, then use these processes to work them through. Also, I don’t care about resentments you have towards yourself and I don’t care about you feeling the need to make amends to yourself. You should be last on your amends list and you may want to work that through with someone else. No sponsor will meet your every need. My own recovery is uneven and imperfect and depends upon the daily maintenance of my spiritual condition.

Below I’m just cutting and pasting from my emails to my sponsor:

* You talked about humility being a state of knowing nothing… I periodically put myself into such a state, and when I do, I notice my breathing always frees up, my brow and jaw free up, my neck and back unlock, I move more easily and I am happier… Being in a state of awareness rather than a state of judgment conveys these physiological benefits… By contrast when I am most strongly in my beliefs and judgments about the world, I have increased body tension and less awareness…

* Rather than follow your passion, find out what you are good at, and then passionately follow that.

* When one is in a state of knowing nothing, one is always at peace and happy, because when we know nothing, we also have no fears and no resentments, because fears and resentments are based on beliefs, and when we know nothing, we are free and at ease…

* “As adults, we recreate situations that our nervous system is used to from childhood. So if you continually find yourself in situations of stress, anxiety, unhappiness, intensity, etc, the problem isn’t the specific circumstances, it’s the unconscious drive toward the familiar.”

Practices for humility: * Follow directions * Accept responsibility and commitments * Habits * Relationships (you can relate to people without some degree of humility)

* Your Uber passenger rating likely reflects your humility.

Assignment: “Research humility in 12 step teachings… What is it like to have humility? Write a page essay on what I learned about humility… what does humility look like and feel like in your body.”

I went to the Big Book and found 24 references to “humili”.

* Belief in the power of God, plus enough willingness, honesty and humility to establish and maintain the new order of things, were the essential requirements.

* But they had not learned enough of humility, fearlessness and honesty, in the sense we find it necessary, until they told someone else all their life story.

* They meant patience, tolerance, and humility, and above all, the belief that a Power greater than myself could help.

* Many times in the intervening years I have thanked God for that man, a man who had the courage to admit failure, a man who had the humility to confess that all the hard-won learning of his profession could not turn up the answer.

* I followed that suggestion and began to listen. Slowly but surely, some wisdom and humility began to creep in. I became more teachable. I found God working all around me where previously I was sure I had been alone. When I opened my eyes enough to see the miracle, I found that it was right in front of my face. I was growing in God’s love.

*  I needed to be forced into acceptance and humility.

* Oh, and one more thing they told me: Humility is the key.

* 12.—And finally, we of Alcoholics Anonymous believe that the principle of anonymity has an immense spiritual significance. It
reminds us that we are to place principles before personalities; that we are actually to practice a genuine humility. This to the end that our great blessings may never spoil us; that we shall forever live in thankful contemplation of Him who presides over us all.

If you are interacting with people many hours a day and few if anyone deliberately hurts you, you are most likely living in reality and have an accurate sense of your own importance, otherwise you would be provoking people into more retaliation. People don’t like people who have an exaggerated sense of their own importance. So while it may sound absurd to some that I can state that I feel good that I have increasingly been able by the grace of God to live in reality and to live with humility the past few years, I will still humbly share this with you because whatever success I have attained in this program in living in reality is more God’s success than mine.

I found 53 references to humility in the 12 and 12.

You wanted to know what humility felt like in the body. I was taught in 12 Step seminars that “humility” does not mean thinking ill of oneself, or poorly of oneself, rather, it means living in reality. So feeling humility in the body means feeling reality in your body. It means if you are standing up, that you have a sense of the power of gravity. You notice where you are holding unnecessary tension. You notice how the thoughts you have translate into additional body tension. You notice the interplay of your thoughts and emotions with how your body feels. You understand that you can have thoughts and feelings that provoke a tightening and pulling down of your musculature that may be beyond your ability to control in the moment.

So what does humility look like and feel like in the body? Well, one way to approach this question is to discuss what does lack of humility look like and feel like in the body? Lack of humility means a lack of appreciation of reality and hence patterns of unnecessary muscle tension and compression. All beliefs are just unnecessary muscle tension, I once learned. When I simply stand in reality without trying to impose my standards on the world, my will on the world, I stand freely and at ease in my body.

So feeling humility in the body does not relate to whether one’s chin is up or down, shoulders up or back, rather it relates to a feeling of ease with oneself, with others and with God. One does not feel at ease when arrogant or when suffering from distorted thinking. One is more likely to feel at ease when one has an accurate sense of oneself in relation to others and to God.

Page 58: “Another great dividend we may expect from confiding our defects to another human being is humility—a word often misunderstood. To those who have made progress in A.A., it amounts to a clear recognition of what and who we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be. Therefore, our first practical move toward humility must consist of recognizing our deficiencies. No defect can be corrected unless we clearly see what it is. But we shall have to do more than see. The objective look at ourselves we achieved in Step Four was, after all, only a look. All of us saw, for example,
that we lacked honesty and tolerance, that we were beset at times by attacks of selfpity or delusions of personal grandeur. But while this was a humiliating experience, it didn’t necessarily mean that we had yet acquired much actual humility. Though now recognized, our defects were still there. Something had to be done about them. And we soon found that we could not wish or will them away by ourselves.”

I like this definition: Humility means “a clear recognition of what and who we really are.”

Page 72: “That basic ingredient of all humility, a desire to seek and do God’s will, was missing. For us, the process of gaining a new perspective was unbelievably painful. It was only by repeated humiliations that we were forced to learn something about humility. It was only at the end of a long road, marked by successive defeats and humiliations, and the final crushing of our self sufficiency, that we began to feel humility as something more than a condition of groveling despair.”

* Re Dignity: Definition: the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect.

Treating other people with dignity, honor and respect tends to create a reciprocal cycle.

Living a life of service to others tends to develop a feeling of respect from others and from oneself.

Not having choice feels undignified. By working the 12 Steps, I was restored to a sense of choice and freedom and with that comes dignity.

Acting out compulsively is undignified. When you can’t pay your bills, pull your weight, step up to your responsibilities, you feel undignified. I felt in the grip of something I could not name. I knew that no matter how enthusiastically I followed some new self-help program that it would not work for me, that I would find ways to under-perform, that I could not help it. I saw more clearly my sex and love problems, they were more obvious, but my under-earning was more mysterious until I entered program and things became clear. Clarity leads to dignity. Lack of clarity predisposes me to a lack of dignity.

I could find no mentions of “dignity” in either the Big Book or the 12 and 12. So I searched for synonyms of “dignity” and chose “respect” which did not show up in the 12 and 12 but there are 19 uses in the Big Book.

* “Most of us sense that real tolerance of other people’s shortcomings and viewpoints and a respect for their opinions are attitudes which make us more useful to others. Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs.”

* “It may seem incredible that these men are to become happy, respected, and useful once more. How can they rise out of such misery, bad repute and hopelessness?”

* “He never drank again. He too, has become a respected and useful member of his community. He has helped other men recover, and is a power in the church from which he was long absent.”

* “It is a most wonderful blessing to be relieved of the terrible curse with which I was afflicted. My health is good and I have regained my self-respect and the respect of my colleagues. My home life is ideal and my business is as good as can be expected in these uncertain times.”

So one way I understand “dignity” is that it is what naturally occurs in the absence of active addiction.

According to SLAA: “Sobriety: Initially, a state of abstinence from addictive bottom-line behaviors; often accompanied by the return of sanity, choice, and personal dignity that comes from abstaining from bottom-line behaviors.”

From the SLAA newcomer packet: “Many of the lessons have been humbling, and I have not always lived through the pain of living and
dealing with life’s problems with either courage or acceptance. But I have lived through them sexually sober. I’ve learned to live in partnership with God, to practice humility in the Fellowship of SLAA, to embrace dignity of self and the value of wholeness and honesty in human relationships. I have learned to love solitude, and to value companionship. I have learned to be watchful for the subtle addictive patterns that I can slip into so easily. I have come to feel part of the Fellowship, part of humanity, part of the world, part of God.”

Here are synonyms for dignity:


* You asked me to visualize the day ahead, particularly any challenges that might come up.

The biggest challenge I have is lack of energy. So I am always looking for things to add energy. You asked me to visualize how I would deal with problems and challenges that might come up. My biggest problem and challenge is energy. So I am visualizing having energy and power. The most important part of my life now is my Youtube show and the relationships that develop from it. The key ingredient for me to do a good show is to have energy and power.

You asked me to write a page about living with dignity and power. I wasn’t particularly interested in further research on body language, I’ve done that in the past for many hours… I am more interested in body language, so to speak, from the inside out rather than the outside in. So instead I researched the Big Book’s teachings on power, a power not of this world.

I take steps 1, 2, 3 every morning on my knees. Step two in particular speaks about power: “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

I find power from the 3rd step prayer: “God, I offer myself to Thee — to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!”

I searched the Big Book for examples of the word “power” and these ones particularly spoke to me:

* I saw that will power and self-knowledge would not help…

* Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power?

Well, that’s exactly what this book is about. Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem.

* We found that as soon as we were able to lay aside prejudice and express even a willingness to believe in a Power greater than
ourselves, we commenced to get results

* This Power has in each case accomplished the miraculous, the humanly impossible. As a celebrated American statesman put it, “Let’s look at the record.”

Here are thousands of men and women, worldly indeed. They flatly declare that since they have come to believe in a Power greater than themselves, to take a certain attitude toward that Power, and to do certain simple things, there has been a revolutionary change in their way of living and thinking. In the face of collapse and despair, in the face of the total failure of their human resources, they found that a new power, peace, happiness, and sense of direction flowed into them.

* This man recounts that he tumbled out of bed to his knees. In a few seconds he was overwhelmed by a conviction of the Presence of God. It poured over and through him with the certainty and majesty of a great tide at flood. The barriers he had built through the years were swept away. He stood in the Presence of Infinite Power and Love. He had stepped from bridge to shore. For the first time, he lived in conscious companionship with his Creator.

Thus was our friend’s cornerstone fixed in place. No later vicissitude has shaken it.

* As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of His presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or the hereafter. We were reborn.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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